Denver DA’s husband pleads guilty to attempted arson for burning slash in Grand County during fire ban
GRANBY — A man with a history of leaving unattended fires burning on his Kremmling property pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted arson Thursday, July 22, with a possible sentence of 90 days in jail.
In Grand County District Court, Christopher Linsmayer, 68, pleaded guilty to one count of felony attempted arson and one count of misdemeanor attempted arson. Linsmayer is the husband of Denver District Attorney Beth McCann.
Linsmayer originally faced 12 counts of felony arson and 12 counts of misdemeanor arson after emergency crews responded to his home Oct. 27, 2020, for a report of 12 slash piles with four actively burning.
During the time the slash piles were burning, Grand County was under Stage 2 fire restrictions, which prohibit open burning. The burning was especially concerning to neighbors because the East Troublesome and Williams Fork fires were still smoldering under a fresh blanket of snow. Just days earlier, the deadly East Troublesome Fire grew by 100,000 acres overnight, ultimately burning 192,560 acres (more than 300 square miles) and 570 structures before it was extinguished.
According to police reports, Linsmayer was not on the property when crews responded, and firefighters used surrounding snow to extinguish the flames.
No property was damaged and no one was hurt, but the attempted arson charges alleged that Linsmayer “knowingly or recklessly” started a fire that could have injured someone or damaged someone’s buildings or property.
In May, Linsmayer pleaded not guilty and a trial was set for October. His guilty plea entered Thursday vacated the trial.
Under the plea deal, Linsmayer’s sentence will be limited to up to 90 days in jail, 80 hours of community service and two years supervised probation.
The agreement leaves room for a deferred judgment, which would allow Linsmayer to have the charges dismissed from his record and the case sealed two years and 35 days after fulfilling the terms of his sentence.
If Linsmayer doesn’t complete the terms of his agreement, he risks one to three years in prison.
Additionally, Linsmayer will have an injunction that will prevent him from having any open fires on property in his name with the exception of a contained grill with someone else present.
Judge Mary Hoak will sentence Linsmayer on Oct. 14. Linsmayer’s attorney Jack DiCola said over the phone that his client takes full responsibility for his actions.
“He confirmed that the fires were completely extinguished before he left, and there was a foot of snow on the ground,” DiCola said. “He never intended to harm any person or anyone’s property, but he accepts full responsibility and apologizes to anyone who is fearful due to his actions.”
The Denver District Attorney’s Office declined to comment on behalf of Linsmayer’s wife.
Previously, Linsmayer was convicted of violating two county ordinances regarding burn permits for burning a slash pile in August 2019 on a red flag warning day, which signals extreme fire danger. He was sentenced to pay roughly $1,500 in fines and make a $1,000 donation to Mountain Family Center for victim restitution.
In a separate incident, the 2016 Gore Ridge Fire, a 10 acre wildfire that caused more than $100,000 in damage, was linked to slash piles on Linsmayer’s property. He paid $190,000 for fire suppression efforts and restitution to his neighbor.
According to the Grand County Sheriff’s Office, Linsmayer was also cited for a county ordinance violation Nov. 1, 2016, and other reports of inappropriate burning were filed April 7, 2017, and Sept. 16, 2017, but Linsmayer was not cited.
Fourteenth Judicial District Attorney Matt Karzen issued a statement after the hearing, saying the plea agreement shows the importance of abiding by fire restrictions and regulations.
“This resolution should make clear that no matter what you think you are entitled to do, violating a fire ban or otherwise behaving recklessly with fire on Colorado’s Western Slope will result in serious consequences,” Karzen said. “Thankfully, nobody was hurt in this instance and no structures were damaged, but as has been made painfully clear in recent years, there is zero room for irresponsible behavior with fire in Colorado.”
Linsmayer also owns a home just outside of Silverthorne in Summit County. He lists his primary address in Denver.
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